Book discontinued
by Cleis Press Inc.

Much Kinkier than my Evening Crossword

If you've ever fantasized about old-fashioned sex machines or robots then read this book. It's very original, and it's very kinky. However, if you prefer more traditional themes, or if sci-fi or fantasy fiction bores you, then you may not enjoy it as much.
Exotic Feel
Quality Writing
Repetitive Themes
Rating by reviewer:
useful review

About author

As a newcomer to erotic fiction, I hadn't the pleasure of reading any of the authors whose stories are contained within "Carnal Machines". But while single short stories of roughly 15 pages apiece are hardly enough to form meaningful criticisms, I will say that each of the authors featured seem to have the knack for sexy, and at times even witty writing.

While I came away with the impression that each of the authors were talented in their own right, in my opinion, the contributions of Janine Ashbless in "The Servant Question", and of Lisabet Sarai in "Her Own Devices" were especially rousing. Like the work of any particularly gifted author, the writing should impress you stylistically, while capturing your imagination in the process. I found this to be the case with these two.
    • Multiple contributoring authors

Content / Style / Audience

If I were to sum up what "Carnal Machines" is all about, I'd say that it's a collection of short stories, set in and around the turn of the previous century, involving steam powered sex toys, Victorian-era society, oiled up leather, and the curiosities of both high and low societies of the time.

Audiences that may find "Carnal Machines" enjoyable include those that like sci-fi and fantasy, historical fiction, and also have a penchant for all things kinky. It's pretty exotic stuff, and if traditional erotic writing bores you, then the writing in this collection should go a long way in sparking your imagination.

"Carnal Machines" is blend of genres. It's one third sci-fi/fantasy, one third erotica, and one third Saturday morning cartoon. Let me explain. There is a definite feel of other-worldliness here that permeates everything. While all but one story takes place on earth, in what seems to be the Victorian era, it's too fantastical to feel like believable history. And though everything in these stories is covered in soot, and coal power runs everything, it still feels like there's magic in the background.

Because of this, I found it tough to buy into the erotic elements of the stories. The authors tried so hard to create a mood that is all at once dark and sultry, but most of the book still felt childish to me. Most of these stories have all the right pieces to be excellent sci-fi's. Alternatively, they also feature some very steamy writing that, in any other context, would pass as some very edgy erotica. My problem is that they can't be both, the awesome elements in either genre cancel each other out.

So was it hot? Sometimes, but Not often enough. As I've already mentioned, there are true gems in this book. There are stories that truly stirred something in me. But there are just as many mediocre ones too. Honestly, I got really tired of the whole dildo-wielding robot theme. It was hot the first time, but lost its luster fast.

However, if you like the equally glamorous and soot-covered, industrial world of Victorian London. If you like brutish, grease-covered, smoke-spewing machinery. If you like robots with steel and rubber bodies and sex toys for appendages, and lastly, if you are at all kinky, then this collection of stories is bound to appeal to you.

It may be worth noting that while the majority of stories contained involve heterosexual encounters, there are some homosexual ones as well. Several stories make gay and lesbian references, and in a couple of cases, the story revolves around gay couples.
    • Bdsm
    • Fiction
    • Fetish


The book itself is a manageable 8 by 5.5 inches, and less than 1 inch thick. I found it easy to conceal in my bag, among my other texts and paperbacks. As for design, I like the cover. It's provocative, but not offensive. There is no nudity or offensive images to speak of, and at first glance, it looks like any other book you might find in the sci-fi/fantasy section at the store.

While not particularly well made, the soft and flimsy cover does have its advantages. In fact, I prefer it that way. Being flexible, the book is easy to conceal, and in doing so, I don't care if it gets slightly bent or folded. If it was hardcover, I'd risk damaging it's rigid spine in transit. Soft as it is, it's very travel friendly.
    • Small size
    • Soft cover
Follow-up commentary
Despite the fact that I found this book to be a bit tedious, with a few exceptions of course, I find myself wanting to read another book similar to this one. Perhaps it's those few excellent stories that, all by themselves, pull this book above water. I'm still new to erotic fiction, so we'll see how the next one goes.
This product was provided free of charge to the reviewer. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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  • Contributor: exploringthechimera
    Thanks for the review. I love the book cover.
  • Contributor: Chris15461
    nice review
  • Contributor: samanthalynn
    nice review
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